OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Clemency was denied for the next prisoner set to be executed for a murder dating back twenty years.
“Are we willing to execute a mentally ill and impaired person?” asked Katrina Conrad-Legler, legal counsel for the death-row inmate.
“He has spent his entire adult life manipulating systems,” said Kathy Morgan-Rudd, a former DHS employee.
The State Pardon and Parole Board voted to deny Benjamin Cole clemency after state attorneys detailed the brutal 2002 murder of his daughter, Brianna, in Claremore.
State Attorney General, John O’Connor, said in a statement in part:
“…on December 20, 2002, when her cries interrupted Cole’s video game. Cole, annoyed by Brianna’s crying and fussing, grabbed Brianna by the ankles, forcefully pushed her ankles toward her head, bent her back in half, and flipped her over. Cole then went back to his video game and left Brianna to die in agony in her crib.”
“This bending broke Brianna’s spine and tore her abdominal aorta asunder. After that, Brianna stopped crying,” said Tessa Henry, an assistant attorneys general.
However, Cole’s attorneys argued he too was a victim of childhood abuse.
“The jury found he was not a continuing threat to society and yet they found that death was still the appropriate punishment,” said Henry.
Since the sentencing, attorneys and the Oklahoma Coalition Against the Death Penalty said in a statement in part:
“Mr. Cole’s mental condition has sharply deteriorated. A lesion in his brain has grown. He is no longer capable of communicating with his attorneys. He is no longer capable of recognizing that he is being punished. Yet only one of the five Board members voted for clemency today. There were no questions to any of the speakers. There was no discussion by any of the Board members before the final vote. This was a pro forma vote. The Board was just going through the motions in denying mercy for Ben Cole.”
“His untreated schizophrenia continued to get worse,” said Tom Hird, Cole’s legal counsel.
“Benjamin could live out the remainder of his life in more compassionate surroundings off death row,” said Conrad-Legler.
However, the state’s attorney said he’s faking it. They claim others have seen Cole secretly getting out of his wheelchair and standing up in his cell.
“He’s a narcissist. He wants to control the whole situation,” said Dr. Bryan Young, little Brianna’s uncle, who she is named after.
Dr. Young said he and other family members will be at the execution.
“I don’t know that I have forgiven him,” said Dr. Young. “May the Lord have mercy on your soul.”
The AG’s Office said an independent evaluator found Cole is competent enough to be executed.
Cole’s execution is set for October 20th.